Picking Exterior Paint Colors


As with my recent posts about choosing paint colors for furniture and for rooms, you can definitely tell that I have paint on the brain.  I have a lot of projects on my to-do list that are overdue, and a big one is painting the exterior of our home.  While I paint furniture and cabinets on a regular basis, I won’t touch an exterior project with a ten foot pole.  I know my limits, both in my skill set and my sanity), and painting an exterior would probably send me over the edge.  I’m already overwhelmed at the options when it comes to paint colors, and trying to decide what direction I want to go with it.  So today, I’m going to take you along on my mental journey of picking exterior paint colors.  Whether we end up at a final destination, is another story…

High Contrast

I have been going back and forth with color ideas for awhile, and one of the big decisions I need to make is whether I want a high contrast look or not.  Currently, the color of the siding, stone and brick kind of blend together, and I am looking for something new.  Here is a look at our home’s exterior when we first bought it back in 2010.  I don’t take a whole lot of exterior photos, and it’s so rainy and disgusting here, I don’t have a great current shot of our home’s exterior, so bear with me on some of the photos here.

Craftsman Exterior

In this close up shot, you can see some of the stone and brick detail.  I feel like it just gets a little bit washed out with its current color palette.  

Craftsman Exterior

Here is a backyard view, when our yard wasn’t a totally mud pit like it is right now – oh how I miss green grass.  This was also before The Big Dig, where we took out our pond, and replaced it with a paver patio.  Right now, it looks awful.  We have a whole section that is just mud right now thanks to 1) weather and 2) dogs.  Ok, mainly because of the dogs.  But our backyard grass has really taken a nosedive for some reason.  Anyway…  Here is the backyard.  Not a whole lot to worry about in terms of painting back here – just the covered porch area, soffits and stairs (which need some serious help) – and my stair railing, which is a hot mess.

Backyard Exterior

So basically, I have no contrast going on right now.  Naturally, I’m finding myself drawn in the opposite direction.

These are a couple of exteriors that I have admired for a long time, and I guess that’s a good thing because I still love them, even today.  I love the rich color, and the contrast of the trim along with the stone.  So classic and pretty. 

This is another exterior that has probably been pinned a gazillion times.  And why wouldn’t it?  It’s sharp, so eye-catching for so many reasons.

Gray Craftsman Exterior

While I don’t have a problem repainting a room in my house if the paint color is a fail, or, more frequently, if I’m just itching for a something new.  But exteriors aren’t so easily redone.  My mom still talks about the time they had their house painted and absolutely hated the color.  The day to repaint couldn’t come soon enough!  This is quite an investment, and I want to make sure I get it right the first time.  (Because there won’t be a second time anytime soon).

I don’t know that I’m this bold when it comes to an exterior paint color, but this house is certainly a show stopper, don’t you think?  This home can certainly pull off such a bold color choice.  The contrast really draws your attention to all of the beautiful architectural details, the varied rooflines, the windows – all of it.  Stunning.  If you’re nosey like me and want to see the inside, take a look here.  You’re welcome.

But this house proves that you don’t have to have a huge house in order to be bold with your exterior paint color.  This house is equally striking in a rich charcoal.

And you know I can’t talk high contrast without including navy in the round-up. 

 Again, you can see here how the detail of the stone is the focal point with the dark paint color as a contrast.  Think of how it would look if the exterior color was a light brown or beige – the detail would blend right in with the facade.

Going White

Recently, I have even considered going in the opposite direction with the exterior paint color – trying something white.  I’ve seen some exterior before and after photos where the exterior went white, and I have loved how they have completely changed the look and feel of the home.  But I’m still on the fence.

While this home has a white exterior, it has the black shutters to give it not only charm and character, but a nice dose of contrast.  It wouldn’t look the same without the shutters would it?  It would be like a face without eyebrows.

Somewhere in the Middle

There are options that are in the middle, that may not be as dramatic as some, but are certainly striking without being boring.

I love this house for lots of reasons – a gorgeous exterior, but would you just look at that outdoor fireplace?  Wow.  I love the color palette on this home, the stone work, the cedar shake roof – all of it.

This gorgeous home from The Gray Cottage has me thinking that middle of the road can most certainly be beautiful.

Gray Cottage

I think I could get behind an exterior color that falls in the middle, if the trim is a crisp white.  Like this home from TS Adams Studio, Architects, painted in Sherwin Williams’ Repose Gray.

Repose Gray Exterior

This beauty from Clark and Co. Homes looks sharp in Amherst Gray with a light and fresh front door in Wythe Blue (both Benjamin Moore colors).

Amherst Gray Exterior

So, what do you think?  I have to tell you, I’m not much closer to a decision after this exercise!  If anything, I’m surprised that I’m kind of loving the colors that fall in the middle, now that I realize that I need the white trim as contrast.  I think with our huge, dark roofline, that we probably shouldn’t go too dark, or else it will just look … weird.  But I think that we can all agree that the trim should be white.  Just need to decide on the rest of it, right?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on painting the exteriors of your homes.  Anything that you wish you had done differently?  Anything you would definitely do again?  Please share, as I find exteriors overwhelming!



  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Your home is beautiful! I think the contrast will look amazing. I know it’s much easier to pick paint and other things for someone else rather than commit to something yourself but I think you’ll love it. I love the look of the first two homes. I also like the navy! Good luck making your choice. Can’t wait to see!

  • Reply
    Jenn @ Loveland Lodge
    March 21, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Hi Jenny! Agree that choosing an exterior color is a difficult decision, mainly because unlike a piece of furniture or walls, it’s not easy to repaint. I think I went through at least 10 samples last year. In the end, we chose Stonehenge Greige by Olympic (mixed in Sherwin Williams). It’s a darker greige, with green/brown undertones, but our roof is on the red-brown side. We get a lot of west-facing sun so didn’t want to go too dark or too light for fear of reflecting/absorbing the sun. All of our trim is Alabaster by Sherwin Williams which pops nicely. Your stone work is beautiful and any of the colors above will look great! (sorry for the long comment – since we just went through this process, it’s still fresh 🙂

    • Reply
      March 21, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks for your insight! It really helps hearing from people who have gone through it already. I wouldn’t be surprised if I went through 10 samples as well – I’ve gone through almost that many for painting a room INSIDE our house! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

    When we built our home three years ago, I surprised myself by falling in love with a deep blue. I was convinced we would go with a deeper grey. The blue paired with the crisp white trim is stunning and we receive so many compliments on it. We limited our stone work to our garage and columns, because I really wanted the blue/white contrast to be the star of the show. Our subdivision is a sea of what I like to call “retirement beige” so when directing people to our house, I only have to say, “It’s the blue one.”

    I think your home would be stunning with a medium grey green like SW Artichoke or BM Devonshire Green.

    • Reply
      March 21, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      We are currently building a house right now and I have to commit to my exterior paint colors. I really love the contrast of navy blue with crisp white trim. But once you mentioned a large roof line, (ours will have one as well) I wonder if it’ll look weird! I do like the grays, but not light gray because it just reminds me of faded paint. I love a charcoal though with some white trim.

      • Reply
        March 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

        I would love to see what you end up choosing Katie! It’s such a big decision!

    • Reply
      March 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      That sounds beautiful Carmen! I love the look of a rich blue – inside or outside!

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Jenny! I have come to the conclusion that I like the opposite of what I have. We built our home almost 3 years ago. I wanted it muted with lots of bright white trim. Now that I have it, I wish I would have picked a high contrast with white trim. Im sure that whatever you decide will be beautiful!

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Oh have I been in this spot before! I love the high contrast look too, but it doesn’t always work out with existing features. What finally made things work for me, was finding paint swatches of colors that exactly matched my dark red brick, grout and stonework (things I can’t change) and built my palette around them. Because I worked with these colors instead of against them, my house is now one of the more striking ones on the block! (SW Virtual Taupe, accessible beige, tricorn black). Good luck, can’t wait to see what you do!

  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    I am going to make a suggestion a great read which will save you lots of money. http://www.mariakillam.com/exteriorcoloursolutions/

  • Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 6:48 am

    We just resided our house & went with a dark color siding & wide white trim. I love the contrast. Try one of those paint websites that allow you to upload a photo of your house & add the color to it to see how the new colors look with your shingles & stone or brick. It helps a lot.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Have you thought of doing the siding in a light color and doing the trim in a darker color? Im toying with the idea of doing the siding of my home in Ben Moore Dove Wing and the the trim and windows in SW Repose gray. Garage and exterior/front doors in SW gauntlet Gray. A neighbor has done this and it is gorgeous. I have to see it somewhere else first cause thats a BIG decision! Best of luck!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I love the symmetry of your house, the entrance looks so welcoming, its so fresh. I sell gutters, and I love to see contrasting gutters and paint. My current favourite is black guttering with white wood panelling. and I love cast iron guttering on modern homes to give it a traditionally inspired feel.

  • Reply
    Caro Kyle
    October 16, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    You have a beautiful home. I’m going through your pictures and I really like the paint on the third house past yours, the one you said has been tagged a zillion times. Do you happen to know what the color of that house it? We are building and my time is narrowing quickly for picking exterior paint. Thanks so much !

    • Reply
      December 23, 2017 at 1:48 am

      I too love that paint color. Did anyone ever respond as to what the color is? Kind of a gray/green. Very nice.

      • Reply
        December 26, 2017 at 12:20 pm

        In going back and looking at Houzz, the builder indicated that the exterior paint color was a “custom” color. All of the awesome ones seem to be custom, don’t they?

  • Reply
    November 4, 2017 at 1:07 am

    I started in the same place: white trim and some unknown, but gorgeous color. Now I’ve decided on a white house with gray trim. Even the brick is getting a German smear. It will be offset with natural wood: front and garage doors along with porch posts. I feel totally confident in my decision, and believe you will know when you have made the right one for your home. Walk through the neighborhood and imagine what each home needs. Then when you have that zen mindset going, take a good look at your house.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Exterior is certainly tough! Trying to update our home and struggling!

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